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Power Macs outperform SGIs?

Brian Bezanson <> writes:

As a Mac developer whose current product, Jet Stream Color Image Server, runs on SGI hardware (from the "Purple" Indigos and the Indigo 2 to the Indy machines), I can tell you they don't compare to Power Macs in price/performance.

The Indigo 2 that Mr. Showker saw (TidBITS #227) was probably the standard SGI Indigo 2 demo machine that has a 2 GB Barracuda hard drive, 128 MB to 256 MB of RAM, and is running minimal system software. A bare Indigo 2 machine starts in the $15,000 range. Add $3,000 for the 2 GB drive (SGI charges more), $10,000 for 128 MB of RAM, and $6,000 for a monitor with 24-bit graphics and Mr. Showker's "All for a few dollars more than a dressed-out Power Mac" starts at $33,000. A Power Mac 8100 has faster Specmarks, starts at around $5,000 and with an added $2,000 for the Barracuda drive and $4,000 for the RAM, you're at $11,000 for a machine that can do more when the truly native version of Photoshop 3 arrives. [And then there's the fact that SGI Photoshop is reportedly two to three times more expensive than Photoshop for the Macintosh. -Adam]

I have yet to see SGI Photoshop run at even Quadra speeds on our Indigo 2 and Indy machines when they are networked in our standard work environment. I was at Macworld in January where SGI was showing how the Indy at $4,995 was better than a Quadra. The folks from Corel were saying why they weren't doing development for the Mac anymore and why you should buy the Indy with their program. I then asked the Corel demonstrator the minimum machine required, and he said an Indy ($5,000), 2 GB hard drive ($3,000), 96 MB of RAM ($8,000), and 24-bit video ($3,000 to $4,000 for a new monitor and $2,000 to $3,000 for a 24-bit video card). The machine recommended to run CorelDraw for SGI cost over $22,000!

In case you're wondering, why do we use the SGI? Because for price/performance it is the fastest Unix workstation out there. We know the machines needed to run our software cost our customers $20,000 to $30,000, but we also have the fastest Adobe PostScript Level 2 RIP available and they view that as the price for speed and stability. My goal is to move to a PowerPC 604/620-based Mac running System 8 (Copland) in two years so we can get the pre-emptive multitasking and memory protection we get on the SGI along with the price/performance of a Power Mac.


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